Rolls Royce is reportedly planning to cut up to 8,000 jobs after aircraft manufacturers slashed production during the coronavirus pandemic.
The British civil engineering giant – which makes engines for planes – currently employs 52,000 people.
As many as 15% could lose their jobs, the Financial Times reports, quoting company sources.
That would exceed the 5,000 redundancies the firm made after the 9/11 terror attack in 2001.
Rolls Royce’s UK civil aviation workforce – especially those based in Derby, historic home of the 116-year-old company – is expected to bear the brunt of the cuts.
The aviation industry has been badly hit by the pandemic as many flights across the world have been suspended.
The impact has forced aircraft manufacturers to cut production – Airbus has cut its production by a third and has furloughed 3,200 staff.
Ryanair announced on Friday that it is preparing to cut 3,000 jobs, or 15% of its 19,000 workforce, and IAG plans to slash 12,000 staff at British Airways, or almost 30% of the 42,000 employed.
News of the planned job losses will be a blow to the government, whose furlough scheme is designed to help prevent firms making redundancies as world economies shrink under coronavirus lockdowns.
About a quarter of Rolls Royce’s UK civil workforce has already been furloughed.
But the schemes only last until the end of June and the global aerospace industry is now bracing for a sharp and protracted fall in demand after more than a decade of booming orders.
Rolls Royce has opened negotiations with unions and measures could still be found to reduce the final number.
Stephen Daintith, Rolls Royce’s finance director, told employees this week that the group expected its civil aerospace business to be a third smaller as a result of the crisis and that job losses could be expected.
The company told Sky News: “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. We have taken swift action to increase our liquidity, dramatically reduce our spending in 2020, and strengthen our resilience in these exceptionally challenging times.
“But we will need to take further action.
“We have to do this right, which means we are working closely with our employee and trade union representatives and then we will consult with everyone affected.
“We have promised to give our people further details of the impact of the current situation on the size of our workforce before the end of this month.”